Continued from:
Rumors of War: The Theme Deck
The Theme Deck, Cont’d

Two questions crossed my mind: what does the deck mean (and what do I use it for), and was the experiment a success? There are yet other questions like, did I enjoy the experiment and would I do it again, but let’s get to the other ones first — what does the deck mean?

The deck is primarily black, featuring rats and zombies, with a theme around infection and disease. Blue also ranks in importance, leading with strange aquatic creatures and a focus on rather brutal manipulation. (“Here, have a -1/-1 and become tapped — here, you have a counter on you, go back to your player’s hand. Oh, you? I think I’ll just take control of you.”) White spirits stay at a distance, providing support.

If you go by the “philosophies of the color pie” or whatever blind weirdness Wizards is spouting now … then the cards represent sickness and moral decay, corruption by an aloof alien intellect, and an active spiritual presence that guides and protects. Cards that didn’t make the cut were a Royal Assassin, a couple copies of Witch’s Mist, and any artifacts to speak of — but those wouldn’t necessarily have affected the theme.

What do I use the deck for? I wanted to take the first year of the comic to introduce the major characters and their relationships, establish the setting and the “episode formula,” and to see if the comic itself was sustainable. I think most of those were a success (I don’t know if I have a formula…) and I want to take the next year to set up the initial conflicts to drive the story through the next couple years.

The deck will serve as a sort of tangible reinforcement of what the conflicts and themes are supposed to be. Physical and mental corruption are intended to be major themes — as is manipulation by unseen forces beyond the reach of the protagonists. If you take a look at the deck I built, and the mechanics it employs to defeat an opponent, you should get a very clear idea that this is just not very nice.

Insofar as success is concerned, I think I developed some very interesting ideas and I would very much like employ them in new and interesting ways as the comic progresses. I had a lot of fun thinking about how to represent the story’s themes in terms of game mechanics, and weighing what I’ve already established in the story with the effect I eventually want to achieve.

On a side note, I want my (hypothetical) Wikipedia article, like the articles for Greek mathematicians and such, to list the bazillion things that I did, or was interested in, like “poet, dramatist, philosopher, gamer, gaming philosopher, etc.” It’d be awesome.